Sunday, April 10, 2011

Japan News and the Models

Something which I find quite fascinating about the news here in Japan is the use of model buildings when illustrating and discussing some recent events where they want to visualize the development(s). It's standard fare here in Japan but recently with the Fukushima plant situation there's really been a boom in the use of realistic miniature models. There are probably at least 7-8 major channels in Japan with their own news shows, from the more serious NHK to channels with a more sensationalistic slant.

However, what has been unifying all these channels has been the use of detailed painted miniature models of the reactors, capturing the white and blue painting of the undamaged ones and the destruction of the outer containers of the ones that suffered some explosions. Things like the installation of tall towers built to efficiently spray water into the reactors to cool them down was immediately added to the miniature panoramas without any delay. See the pictures here in the post to get a feeling for how these models can look.



Now, don't get me wrong, I'm ok with the miniature models, they add some flavor and sometimes they are even mildly helpful to show what exactly went on where. However, mostly I am distracted from this by my thoughts wandering into the topic of who exactly makes these models? Does the news channels have their own in-house panorama model production staff or do they outsource it to professionals in the field? And if they outsource, is it a market with fierce competition or a buyer's market?! In my head, I get this picture of an extremely harsh market with rigged tenders and plenty of money exchanging hands under the table to get the best model makers to supply the channel with the best and most accurately painted models.

The only thing I miss is small models of people standing around smoking, looking busy or just chillin'. Maybe that's the next step to go for the channel that doesn't want to lose out in the panorama model war!

8 comments:

BiggerInJapan said...

haha, good Salaryman, I'm with you on this! Did you see the one where they actually let pink "radioactive water" flow from the reactor through the turbine, trench, into the ocean?

Eva said...

Hey you're not alone! I suspect those amateur ones were made by the newscasters and the professional ones were made by the props and set team.

Chris said...

When I first came to Japan I was struck by the use of props instead of CGI. They use those peel away stickers to hide then show topics of the day on a variety of programs.

Kinda like American kids programs...really odd for a high tech country.

Sam Pugeda said...

It does seem strange that a country known for their animation and video games would use model buildings instead of computer graphics. I think it adds more charm :)

aimlesswanderer said...

When I was there, one night they were reporting on a truck losing control at an intersection and smashing into a building.

From memory they did the first story, with a reporter at the scene, then a CGI recreation, then, bizarrely, pushed a model truck into the model intersection, and crashed it. I wondered whether it was a slow news day, but maybe not.

GrantV said...

OK - confession time. I'm a model builder, have been since I was a kid, and still do it for relaxation. As a model builder, I bet I know what they do with them in between the use on the newscast - have a model Godzilla attack them.

That's what I would do!

jlpt2kyu said...

Does anyone know the purpose of the giant 'mount rushmore' style statue of the grumpy old man?

Mr. Salaryman said...

BiJ - No, I missed that, but it must have helped enormously in understanding how it actually worked, right? They should build a miniature model of the whole ocean just to give the full context, in depth as well

Eva - Yeah, I'm a bit curious as to whether they are made in-house or not

Chris - Exactly! Why didn't I make the connection - it's exactly like a kid's show! Love the peeling of stickers to reveal at just the right timing.

Sam - Yep, I must say that I'm not really against the concept of using models, I just find it a bit odd that everyone seem to find it mandatory to have those models and the amount of detail that goes into making them...

Aimless - Haha, wow, that show poured everything into it! I think I've seen similar things from time to time as well

GrantV - Nothing wrong with being a model builder, one of the more benign types of Otaku out there I think, never had the patience myself though

JLPT - He does look a bit like a destructive monster eyeing the plant...

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